Call for Papers: The Eighteenth Century and the Unconscious
Tenth Annual Workshop
Sponsored by the Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies
Indiana University Bloomington
May 11-13, 2011
Eighteenth-century studies in many ways emerged from and remains
beholden to "the Enlightenment"-a category often understood in terms of
rationality, reason, and the exercise of conscious decision making.
Reason may be celebrated (see Jonathan Israel) or it may be critiqued
(see Horkheimer and Adorno): in either case, it remains central to most
accounts of the period. Yet the eighteenth century was also the era of
empirical psychology, sentimentalism's triumph, and the emergence of
what we now call Romanticism. It may even be the era of the discovery or
the invention of the unconscious (Sloterdijk). By focusing on
"unconscious" eighteenth centuries, this workshop therefore asks
participants to reconsider the relation of reason to un-reason and of
theory to historically inclined analyses.
Any mention of the unconscious immediately invites psychoanalytic
interpretation. Yet the framework and vocabulary of psychoanalysis were
unknown to eighteenth-century protagonists. For the purposes of this
workshop, we therefore propose a broad starting definition of the
unconscious as that which is unavailable to consciousness: it may be
simply invisible or it may be actively produced by some "invisibilizing"
mechanism, such as repression, suppression, or forgetting. It may
operate within an individual or text, or it may function throughout a
culture; its effects may be social, political, legal, literary,
pedagogical, or psychological. There may be structurally different forms
of unavailability. While the unconscious and its effects may be analyzed
in terms derived from Freud, they do not need to be-indeed, it is our
hope that this workshop will provoke participants to rethink both their
understandings of the eighteenth century and their accounts of conscious
and unconscious processes.
We invite participants to be explicit about their methodological
choices. Papers might address one or all of the following concerns:
1. Was there an unconscious according to eighteenth-century
protagonists; if so, how did it emerge and what functions did it serve?
2. Can we historicize a concept or structure such as the unconscious?
What would be gained from doing so? What would be lost?
3. If there is something "eighteenth-century" about current theories of
the unconscious, need their origins be found in this period, broadly
4. To what extent do eighteenth-century examples challenge or complicate
common models of unconscious life? With its focus on oedipal dramas
within the nuclear family has psychoanalysis itself blinded us to the
effect of extended families, the importance of social modes of
remembering and forgetting, and the emotional work of religious affiliation?
The workshop format will consist of focused discussion of four to six
papers a day, amid socializing and refreshment. The workshop will draw
both on the wide community of eighteenth-century scholars and on those
working in this field at Indiana University-Bloomington. The workshop
will cover most expenses of those scholars chosen to present their work:
accommodations, travel (up to a certain limit), and most meals.
We are asking for applications to be sent to us by Friday, January 7,
2011. The application consists of a two-page description of the proposed
paper as well as a current brief CV (no longer than three pages).
Please email or send your application to
Dr. Barbara Truesdell
400 North Sunrise Drive
Weatherly Hall North, Room 122
Bloomington, IN 47405
email [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Papers will be selected by an interdisciplinary committee. All submissions will be
acknowledged by e-mail within a fortnight: if you have not received an
acknowledgment by the January 7th application deadline, please contact
Barbara Truesdell or Mary Favret. We will make final decisions on
participants in early February.
Further information can be found on our website,
http://www.indiana.edu/~voltaire/, or you can find us on
For additional details and queries, please contact the director of the Center,
Department of English
Bloomington, IN 47405
e-mail: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>.
The German Studies Call for Papers List
Editor: Stefani Engelstein
Assistant Editor: Olaf Schmidt
Sponsored by the University of Missouri
Info available at: http://grs.missouri.edu/resources/gerlistserv.html